Indian Wells Preview Day 5
Published March 10, 2012 11:43
Sunday, Third Round
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #27)
Head-to-head: Kuznetsova leads 4-1
After her Houdini-esque escape against Mona Barthel on Friday, Victoria Azarenka could be forgiven for feeling invincible. The World No.1's 2012 record now stands at 18-0, leaving her just one win away from posting the best start to a WTA season since 2003. Next up is two-time Indian Wells runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova. Despite her past glories, prior to this week, the Russian had not won a match here since 2008 and she will need to up her level if she is to stand a chance of toppling Azarenka. However, Kuznetsova has won two of the pair's three previous hardcourt matches, and she will draw further encouragement from the rare signs of vulnerability Azarenka displayed when confronted with Barthel's aggressive return game.
 Petra Kvitova (CZE #3) vs.  Christina McHale (USA #35)
Head-to-head: first meeting
This time last year, Christina McHale needed a wildcard just to make the main draw in Indian Wells. Twelve months later, she's the highest-ranked American in the tournament and a seed to boot. Still just 19, McHale already possess all the technical and mental attributes of a Top 20 player and a good run here will move her one step closer to joining the elite. Before she can contemplate this, though, she must first find a way to disarm the big hitting Petra Kvitova. In the second round, Kvitova shook off any ring rust she may have had after missing Doha and Dubai - due to injury and illness respectively - with a comfortable win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. However, McHale, who already holds three wins over Top 10 players, will pose a sterner test, and will be poised to capitalize should Kvitova go off the boil.
 Zheng Jie (CHN #34) vs.  Li Na (CHN #8)
Head-to-head: Zheng leads 4-0
Li Na may have the Grand Slam title and Chinese No.1 ranking, but head-to-head bragging rights back home belong to Zheng Jie. Surprisingly, Zheng has won all four of the pair's WTA meetings to date, and, although the most recent of these came back in 2006, Li will be keen to turn the tables on Sunday. However, whether she is in the form to do this is open to question. Since her heartbreaking three-set defeat to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open in January, Li has been on court just twice, one of which was her cagey second round win over Galina Voskoboeva earlier this week. Zheng, though, has also been out of sorts since Melbourne, losing early in Pattaya City, Doha and Dubai, leaving the outcome of the third round clash in the balance
Also on court...
In-form Agnieszka Radwanska continues her title challenge against Flavia Pennetta in the evening session on Stadium 1, while Vera Zvonareva, Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber are also in third round action.
For more on today's matches, see our Match Notes in the Press Center.